How to Decide on the Right CDL Training School near Robertsdale Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Robertsdale AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Robertsdale home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Robertsdale AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Robertsdale AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Robertsdale AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Robertsdale AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Robertsdale AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Robertsdale AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Robertsdale AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Robertsdale AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Robertsdale AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Robertsdale AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Robertsdale AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Robertsdale Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Robertsdale is located in southern Baldwin County at 30°33'16.034" North, 87°42'20.038" West (30.554454, -87.705566).U.S. Route 90 (Old Spanish Trail) passes through the city, leading west 24 miles (39 km) to Mobile and east 35 miles (56 km) to Pensacola, Florida.
As of the census of 2010, there were 5,276 people, 1,951 households, and 1,392 families residing in the city. The population density was 968 people per square mile (373.6/km²). There were 1,573 housing units at an average density of 357.3 per square mile (137.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.3% White, 5.4% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 6.1% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. 9.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,951 households out of which 36.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.4% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were non-families. 23.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.10.
Truck Driving Jobs Training Robertsdale AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Driving Jobs Training. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Robertsdale AL.
Keep On Trucking in These Other Alabama Locations